Britain is having its hottest day ever, with temperatures reaching 40 degrees Celsius

  • The temperature reaches 40 degrees Celsius all over the country
  • Train services canceled due to the heat
  • Heat wave pushes focus on promises of climate change

LONDON (Reuters) – Britain on Tuesday recorded its hottest day ever, with temperatures exceeding 40 Celsius (104 Fahrenheit) as the heatwave intensified across Europe, forcing train tracks to bend and igniting a wave of fires across London.

The Met Office said a temporary new temperature record of 40.3 degrees Celsius (104.5 Fahrenheit) was recorded in Conningsby, central England, with 34 locations across the country experiencing temperatures above the previous high of 38.7 degrees Celsius (101.7 Fahrenheit) recorded in year 2019.

Stephen Belcher of the Met Office said he had not expected to see such temperatures in Britain in his career.

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“Research conducted here at the Met Office has shown that it is nearly impossible for the UK to experience 40°C in an uninterrupted climate, but climate change from greenhouse gases has made these extreme temperatures possible,” he said.

Train services on the main routes from London to the country’s east and west coasts were canceled, power companies reported mass outages and normally busy city centers seemed quiet. Network Rail has tweeted a number of photos showing the major bends and twists of railway tracks.

The London Fire Brigade declared a major accident and urged people to stop barbecuing, as hundreds of firefighters battled blazes across the capital.

To the east, a large fire engulfed homes in the village of Wennington, blazing across about 40 hectares (100 acres) of dry neighboring fields. Elsewhere, large grassy areas were set ablaze around the capital, and smoke rose on main roads and adjacent areas.

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The London Ambulance Service said it was handling 400 calls an hour due to the sweltering heat.

“We are seeing an increase in patients experiencing heat exposure, breathing difficulties, dizziness and fainting,” said Peter Rhodes, deputy director of ambulance operations.

Britain, which could struggle to maintain key transport services in extreme temperatures or snow, has put in a national emergency due to the unprecedented temperatures.

“Thank you to all the firefighters and front line services who are working incredibly hard to keep us safe on this scorching day,” Prime Minister Boris Johnson said on Twitter.

Do not travel

Transportation Secretary Grant Shapps said there was a significant amount of travel disruption.

“Infrastructure, a lot of which was built from the Victorian era, was not built to withstand these kinds of temperatures,” he said.

The rail network operator advised passengers not to travel unless absolutely necessary.

“Extreme Heat: All services stopped. Don’t come to the station,” Avanti West Coast, which operates services from London to cities like Liverpool, Manchester and Glasgow, said on Twitter.

Climate scientists have said the previously unimaginable temperature in London is likely to become more common in the coming years.

Sonny Kapoor, professor of climate and macroeconomics at the European University Institute, said it has long been believed that people underestimated the physical effects of climate change in contemporary times. “But I didn’t even think we would see 40 degrees Celsius in London in 2022,” he said.

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The arrival of the intense heat wave that first lit bushfires across Europe before it reached Britain has put a spotlight on the “net zero” pledges of candidates to replace Boris Johnson as prime minister.

After Johnson advocated the move to net-zero when Britain held the COP26 UN climate change summit in 2021, some candidates to replace him appeared more tepid and ranked other challenges facing the country as their priority.

After Tuesday’s heat, the Met Office said the temperature would drop on Wednesday, but warned that heavy thunderstorms were possible.

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Additional reporting by Gloria Dickey. Writing by Kate Holton, William James and Michael Holden; Editing by Angus McSwan, Catherine Evans, Raisa Kasulowsky and Jonathan Otis

Our criteria: Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

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